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LITERARY    LIFE                        253

nor for poetic beauty which is better shown in the Western
Chamber (Hsihsiang), nor for grandeur of passion as in The Hall
of Longevity (CKangshmgtien}. But the Romance of the Guitar
nevertheless holds its own in popularity by its sheer appeal to the
beauty of domestic love and loyalty, which always finds a
warm place in the Chinese heart. Its influence is more truly

There was a talented scholar of the Han Dynasty whose name
was Ts'ai Yung. Because his parents were old, he forsook all
ambitions for a political career and was content to stay with
his parents at home. He had just married a girl, Chao Wuniang,
and the play opens with a scene of their happy family feast in
their garden in spring. There was, however, an imperial edict
calling for literary talents in the country, and the magistrate
had reported Ts'ai's name to the court. This meant a trip to
the capital and long years of absence, and there was a struggle
between loyalty to the Emperor and filial piety and wedded
love. His old father, in a spirit of self-sacrifice, urged him to go,
while his mother, with her sounder common sense, opposed.
Ts'ai finally had to go, leaving his aged parents in the care of
his young bride and a good friend by the name of Chang.

Ts'ai was successful in his examinations, coming out as the
first scholar of the land. Then trouble began. For the prime
minister Niu had an only daughter, a beautiful and talented
girl, whom he loved more than anything else on earth. Ts'ai
was forced into marriage with her against his wish, and on their
wedding night, with all worldly glory before him, his happiness
was marred by the thought of Ghao Wuniang. The ministers
daughter found out the truth and planned with her husband
to ask permission to go home and see their parents, but her
father was greatly angered and would not hear of it.

In the meanwhile the conditions at home were going from
bad to worse. Chao Wuniang was the only one supporting the
family by her handiwork, and there came a famine. Luckily
there was famine relief from the public grainage, and Ghao
received her share. On her way home, however, she was robbed
of her rice, and was going to jump into an old well when she
thought of her responsibility toward the old people and desisted.
Then she went to see Chang, Ts'ai's friend, to borrow a handful